Florida Democrats have entered their comfort zone- the season of making excuses. Democrats in Florida are incredibly proficient and adept at one important aspect of political campaigns – generating creative talking points in justifying losing campaigns. Once again in a big race a Democrat has fallen short, and once again no doubt those in and around the party (but perhaps not the FDP itself, though they might have some creative “spin”) will be making excuses. Mayor Alvin Brown’s loss in the Jacksonville Mayor’s runoff to Lenny Curry was not completely unexpected, but still avoidable.
Democratic activists and elected officials who live in the isolated South Florida bubble may not realize how important this race was. Jacksonville will be next year the largest city in the nation with a GOP Mayor. The Mayor of Jacksonville is a visible position that dominates local media in one of the nation’s 40 largest media markets, and a city where Democrats need to run close to even to win statewide elections.
For all too long leaders in the Democratic circle within Florida have valued status over competence, title over hard work and loyalty over winning. When push came to shove, Brown lost because the GOP and former RPOF Chair Lenny Curry had a better ground game and the Democrats were unable to boost turnout numbers to where they should have been today.
The 2008 Obama success in Duval County which was followed up by the 2011 Brown win, now seems long ago. Given the success Florida Democrats have had at making excuses, and the same old operatives and consultants who have rarely been part of high-profile tough wins we are going to preview some of the spin and excuse making coming from the elite class of Democratic operatives that will start tomorrow.
Here are some potential excuses we might hear from Democratic insiders:
1- Brown’s progressive tilt cost him with moderately conservative white voters the Democrats need to win.
2- Jacksonville is a conservative city. We gave it a go in a tough place.
3- President Obama’s unpopular policies including Health Care (which ironically Democrats in the legislature are making a big deal about) cost Brown.
4- The GOP had too much money.
5- Progressives making noise in other parts of the state about Mayor Brown’s policies cost him and the Democrats the election.
6- Brown was a flawed candidate whose local operatives let him down.
7- The media and prominent bloggers were too negative on the Democrats campaign.
The truth is something entirely different:
1. Brown’s unwillingness to support progressive candidates, the Democratic statewide ticket or same-sex causes until late cost him.
2. Voter turnout was down due to a combination of factors, but all reflect poorly on the Democrats ground operation.
3. Brown’s messaging on economic issues, which saw a late conversion to populism was not genuine thus depressing enthusiasm.
4. Unless clear splits occur within the GOP, Democrats find it impossible to win tough, toss of the coin type races anywhere in Florida.
5. The media was fair in this election.
6- Progressives actually closed ranks behind Brown for the most part despite his snubs of Obama and Crist.
7- Much like 2014 which saw a large dip in statewide Hispanic turnout percentage when compared to 2012, this Mayor’s race had Democrats less motivated than Brown’s first election in 2011.
We will have much more on this fallout from this race in the coming days.